In Nevada, insurance companies must offer purchasers of auto insurance "coverage in an amount of at least $1,000 for the payment of reasonable and necessary medical expenses resulting from an accident." See NRS 687B.145(3). This coverage, also known as "Medical Payments Coverage", must be offered on a form approved by the Insurance Commissioner, and a copy of the form must be included in each renewal provided to the purchaser.
The "Must Offer" Requirement can result in coverage when it's not expected, and can significantly increase our clients' net recovery in auto accident claims. As noted, Medical Payments Coverage is used to pay for accident-related medical bills. However, unlike other forms of insurance, it has the secondary benefit that the insured is
not required to pay it back from any recovery or settlement. This coverage is also considered a "Collateral Source Benefit", which the adverse will be prohibited from mentioning at the time of trial. As a result of these circumstances, we routinely recover Medical Payments Coverage for medical bills and additionally recover the value of those same bills from the at-fault driver.
We strongly recommend that everyone purchases full automobile coverage, including both Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (generally referred to as "UM Coverage") and Medical Payments Coverage because the benefits derived from these coverages far outweigh their cost. In Nevada, approximately 20% of drivers are uninsured, obviating the need for UM and Medical Payments Coverage. Further, as noted above, Medical Payments Coverage allows for the potential of a double recovery, which inures to the benefit of the injured party.
In auto accident claims, we always investigate Medical Payments, and demand that the carrier prove it has satisfied the Must Offer Requirement by offering Medical Payments Coverage. If the carrier cannot prove it made the offer (typically by presenting a Waiver Form), coverage will be extended. It should also be noted that Medical Payments Coverage may be "stackable", meaning that an individual possessing coverage on more than one vehicle may be entitled to the full coverage from both policies.
If you have been in an accident and have questions about the amount of insurance coverage you have, contact Shook & Stone immediately - we know how to maximize your recovery.